What Do You Want to be Known for?

The headline poses a deep question, one that we are asked from time to time. What do you want to be known for? People can’t remember everything about you, so what is the one salient characteristic that should resonate with them? Businesses try to articulate this reason for being in their mission statements. Unfortunately, many mission statements devolve into a literary exercise. Their value often resides in contributing to the décor of an office. The mission looks splendid in a frame, but its contribution may end there.

The problem with many mission statements is that they are too wordy and ambiguous for front-line employees to recall, much less execute. The remedy for this problem is to express your purpose in a simple, straightforward way. I saw a sign on the outside of a convenience store today that drove home this point. The sign said:

“To be known for… Making the lives of our customers easier.”

This no-nonsense statement is one that every employee can grasp- this is why we are in business! The store is Kangaroo Express, the primary brand of The Pantry, Inc. The company’s mission statement is a bit more elaborate:

“To become an indispensable part of our customers’ daily lives by always satisfying their on-the-go needs in a fast, friendly and clean environment.”

Mission statements are important pronouncements that define the existence and priorities of an organization. I am a fan of the idea to simplify the mission, as Kangaroo Express has done. The guideline for crafting a mission statement should be to make an impression, not to impress.

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